And yes there is an inevitable ageing process. Starting at about age twenty, so we are not just talking about over 50’s here. Absorption of food can be less efficient, wear and tear affects all parts of the body, brain connections are not as sharp, and enzyme activity declines. That is no reason to expect and accept the conventional wisdom that we can do nothing about ageing. Even less reason to say that the common age related diseases or heart problems “just happen out of the blue” or are inevitable because there is a family history. There are always some indications, some symptoms, often years beforehand. Sadly people may be unaware of how unbalanced their life has become, or ignore symptoms, dismissing them as minor niggles, or even tell themselves that they have no time to deal with it just now. The aim of natural rejuvenation, whether to recover from an illness, or to keep your body and mind efficiently maintained, is to preserve all those life giving processes as long as possible, with the end result of prolonging a healthy life. The cost of doing this is spending time and attention to be aware of your body and mind and supplying what they need when they need it, whether that is food, sleep, oxygen or just a change of scene.
The people who read this magazine are already at least halfway there, because the one thing they have in common is a belief that health and energy, resilience and optimism, all attributes of youthfulness, come from good nutrition, a balanced lifestyle, whatever that is, and a positive outlook. At the same time they are concerned about food quality, minerals missing from the soil, all sorts of chemicals and pollution in air and water. They live with much higher levels of pressure and stress than the last generations did, travel more, maybe don’t get the chance of as much fresh air or exercise, even enough regular sleep, as they’d like. Some of our readers are well established on good food, a lot of it raw, juicing, growing some fresh food at home, while others are starting out. All of us need to be clear what the aim is, and how to get there.
Clear out. Clean up and Rebuild
We can summarise the whole process as clear out (detox where needed) clean up (your own personal act in terms of balancing food rest work sleep and fun) andrebuild (looking at yourself as a whole). Rebuilding is the really interesting bit of getting to know your own body, and involves being aware of family illness patterns also noticing changes in yourself over time and finding out the cause.
First of all, health is not an external thing, and while eating well is really important, that is not the whole story. Health is an ongoing process, where recovery from injuries and illnesses is fast and thorough, leaving the body stronger for the sort of cleanup with comes with a heavy cold or cough, or from a fever. So the first thing is not to suppress symptoms with medicines, but encourage the body to rebalance itself, and give it a chance, by eating lightly, or fasting, drinking extra and sleeping more to let the body recover. It is so important to look after small children like this. Sending them to school and playgroup when they are only half well, gradually makes inroads on their resilience.
Secondly, it’s not true that beauty is only skin deep; it is colon liver and kidneys deep, especially colon! If digestion is inefficient, for whatever reasons, there will be a sum which the body can’t balance. More food, or unbalanced meals, than can be efficiently turned into nutrition for all the cells in your body from your brain to your toes, eventually clogs up the system, literally. Also the body has to dispose of the waste products; too many of those and there’s your personal toxic chemical factory with you night and day! Thirdly, while the body is struggling to cope with all this, the enzymes which power every process in the body have to deal with this overload instead of other important tasks like healing wounds, replacing cells, and activating a strong immune system. Some people have much stronger digestion and elimination organs than others, so apparently get away with it for years, others notice problems earlier.
Rejuvenation then, that is improving your health from the inside out so that it shows on the surface, is exactly the same process as preventing all those degenerative conditions, or put it another way, avoiding premature ageing. It is a gradual and ongoing process, based on the healthy balanced ways you choose to live. It doesn’t matter what your starting point is as long as you start to look after yourself now. Some of the benefits will show surprisingly quickly , with bright eyes and clearer skin, others will take longer, but will gradually be making inroads on toxic buildup and using all that enzyme power more and more effectively.
Starting at the top, the first thing, yes really the first thing, is to sort out stress levels and emotional issues, especially long standing ones. They not only take an enormous amount of energy to deal with daily, or to suppress them, either way negative emotions actually produce toxic chemicals to add to all the rest. So that is the first thing to clear out of the way. Use Bach Flower remedies, find out how to use Emotional Freedom Technique (simple, easy and in your control) or talk to your choice of therapist to get it sorted.
Detoxing is a subject in itself, and outside the scope of the present article, so I will just include the basic things everyone can do to help digestion and elimination. The first is drinking enough good water every day without fail; two to three litres depending on your weight. Secondly, consider a spring clean every few months, with a herbal detox and a course of colonics. If you have not done this before, you will receive invaluable information about the state of your colon from a good colonic hydrotherapist. Thirdly, use as much live raw food, in juices, smoothies and salads daily as you are comfortable with, and gradually decrease the proportion of cooked food until you reach your best personal balance. The details of a high proportion live food diet are well documented elsewhere, so for today I want to concentrate on some essential foods to include, and some things to be wary of, and the reasons for these.
Brain food and exercise.
Staying at the top for a moment, your brain needs feeding, especially with the right kind of oils. Some raw ways of eating do not include enough, so make sure you get enough avocados, seeds and nuts. Seeds and nuts need to be in a digestible form (soaked, sprouted, ground and stirred into smoothies or made into sauces), and everyone can use a small amount of flax oil every day. The seeds and nuts are mostly omega 6, so the flax oil will supply the omega 3 to balance it. This is especially important as we get older, and some people of all ages notice that their memory improves quite quickly when they take an oil supplement. You will have to discover the right amount for you, and take enough but not too much. However if you are gaining weight, don’t cut right back on oils. A small amount of oil is essential, and if you gain weight, look first at your carbohydrates and your daily exercise levels!
Challenge your brain.
Your brain needs to be used to keep the complex patterns of thought and memory sharp. So never stop learning new things, study a new language, learn a new skill, make yourself a reading list, and test your powers of logic with puzzles like sudoku and your lateral thinking with cryptic crosswords.
Your eyes need greens.
Actually your whole body needs greens, and red and yellow, orange and blue, every day. I’m mentioning this at this point, because more and more children and young people seem to need specs, while comparatively few older people escape without needing reading specs, or worse, cataract operations or treatment for conditions like macular degeneration. All the greens and the coloured berries contain lutein, which is essential for eye health, so it is worth having as much as possible every day.
Lutein fruit smoothie
In summer and autumn, make a delicious fruit smoothie with any of the berries, (raspberry and blueberry go well together) and add a couple of peeled kiwi fruits. Use an apple also and add as much fresh young spinach, or some kale, or chard, or broccoli florets, as you can get in while keeping the full fruit flavour. It’s delicious as it is, but thinking back to brain food, add some ground seeds, your daily ration of flax oil and a spoonful of lecithin granules to help to digest the oil. This gives you a fantastic creamy smoothie with an oil and protein boost to keep you going for hours. It’s also so easy to digest and is full of enzymes as well.
Later in the year, if you want something hot make a veggie soup version with carrots, red onions and as many of the green vegetables as you like. Cook them very gently in simmering water and blend when only just tender.
Aim for a less acid system
However much raw or cooked food you eat, the single most helpful way to choose what you eat is to emphasise the alkali forming ones, because toxins in the blood and tissues mean an acid system, and the potential for disease. So increase your intake of fresh ripe fruits and vegetables in the form of juices, smoothies, energy soups and salads, and decrease the acid forming ones. The most acid forming foods are animal protein, grains, dairy products and starchy foods. A body having to deal with too much acid forming food, is going in the opposite direction to rejuvenation, so you need to reverse this. Anyone on high raw/live foods already is unlikely to be over acid, and if so it’s worth looking back at the first requirement, that is, deal with longstanding negative emotions. They can tip you into an acid state no matter how much alkali forming food you choose.
Free radicals and Oxygen
This is getting a bit more technical, we all know how important oxygen is to human life but it is useful to know how free radicals work and the damage they can do throughout the body. There are several kinds, and are mostly produced within the cells during oxygen metabolism. They are essential in the right numbers and keep the cells breathing. They have a free electron, which hooks on to another structure, so that they can have a pair. This leads to trouble, and accelerates the aging process, when there are too many. They attack cells everywhere the blood stream goes, including the brain, so it is essential to keep the damage to a minimum. The cell membranes are vulnerable to this attack and in general terms they then produce other chemicals which further damage the tissues. So while we need oxygen to breathe, the way to avoid forming free radicals is to avoid polluted air, especially smoking, and eat as much antioxidant food as possible. All the fresh raw fruits and vegetables are antioxidant, and there are natural antioxidant supplements you can take both to avoid and repair free radical damage. Lutein is a powerful antioxidant and there are powdered greens which you can stir into that lutein smoothie.
We don’t need to spell out how bad sugar is for us. I will just first mention that it gives your sugar balancing mechanism too much work to do, even leading to diabetes in time, which in itself shortens life. Secondly it mops up your B vitamins, very likely leading to deficiencies. In the context of today’s discussion it is the “hidden fat”. This means that excess sugar has to be stored in fat cells. Well we all know that, but today we are discussing the links between toxicity and degeneration, so we need to realise that the toxins we want to clear out in order to rejuvenate are stored in the fat cells. This is one reason that when you do a juice fast or a week or two on all live foods, you lose weight. Not just because you stop eating concentrated carbohydrate, sugar itself and other foods, but because the detox process involves shedding the fat cells in which it is stored.
Stop. Start. Rebalance. Review.
Rejuvenation is gradual and ongoing.
It requires you to do a physical and mental overhaul of yourself, with some help for specific problems you notice or suspect. It may not be possible for everyone to rejuvenate longterm or to their maximum potential, with foods alone. It saddens me to say this, as for decades I helped others back to health and strength, and experienced superb health myself, on admittedly the best food lifestyle that exists, that is Ann Wigmore’s original Living Foods Programme. In the past few years I been privileged to learn from soil scientists and others that deficient soils mean deficiency of nutrients, and am constantly learning the implications of this for health.
A few essential minerals and vitamins.
Sometimes we need to take supplements, not just in the form of food. Most people, vegan vegetarian and, surprisingly, meat eaters, don’t get enough B12. In fact you may need all the B vitamins from time to time. Pregnant women are generally advised to take B3 for example to ensure healthy development of their baby, as well as B12.
I will just mention selenium and boron here also, because in the UK and many other parts of the world from where we import our food, both are missing from the soil.
Boron helps the body to use calcium, and deficiency has been found to be a basic cause of arthritis, a painful and debilitating degenerative disease which can be so easily avoided, and treated, by supplementing with a boron formulation, as long as foods which make your arthritis worse are also avoided. Selenium is needed as an antioxidant, to deal with free radicals, and cancer forming agents, for a healthy heart, and for male reproductive health. Deficiency is often shown by a family history of cancer, and signs of premature aging. You can eat a couple of brazil nuts every day, but this is such an important mineral, which ought to be in all our food, that a supplement is worth considering.
Find out about yourself. Some useful tests and procedures
Even established raw foodies will benefit from a thorough overhaul, and those who already confidently live this way as a matter of course, might think about having some specific tests. A mineral assay might well turn up some deficiency it is easy to put right. Similarly a homocysteine test, especially for those with heart problems in the family. Women and especially older women need to know if there are ongoing hormone imbalances, and anyone who struggles with chronic low energy needs to find out why, and particularly to rule out toxins in the system which could come from almost anywhere. Common reasons are from agricultural sprays, radiation incidents, and your own teeth. Live blood analysis shows you free radical activity and cell damage, and allows you to track your progress. A good acupuncturist will advise you on rebalancing at the basic energy level, and an Iridology consultation gives you an excellent idea of your strengths and weaknesses.
So with the caution that most of us, sooner rather than later, would be wise to find out which supplements we need, the process of rejuvenation can be summed up as;
Stop clogging/polluting/overloading/poisoning/stressing yourself.
Start detoxing/unloading/repairing/resting/restoring/nourishing yourself.
What will be the results?
If you make a few basic but significant changes in what you eat every day, aiming for a less acid system
If you add in enough sleep and exercise and fresh air,
If you include the natural foods and supplements needed for top level maintenance
If you keep down free radical, fat and toxin levels as much as you can
If you make a start on unloading unwanted emotional baggage, and
If you stick to it for a year
You will gain energy, your brain will be clearer, your memory improved. You will be calmer, more able to cope. You may well lose weight, and your skin and eyes will be clearer and brighter. Your muscles will be better toned, and you will be altogether stronger on every level. Actually you will experience some of these fantastic results in weeks and months, but when you see how far you can get in a year, in spite of some stopping and starting (we all do that) you’ll be well on the way to getting what you want out of your personal rejuvenation programme. You won’t want to stop there, and any concerns about eating and living differently from other people, avoiding the chips, choc and cake, (or the excess starch and dried fruits if you’ve already abandoned those); going to bed earlier sometimes, going for a run instead of watching the soaps) will seem very minor compared to how you feel and look. Your friends will want to copy you.
No need to get worried about having lots of tests. When there’s a good reason, the right one can help you to correct a problem before it becomes a bigger one.And that’s where we began, by agreeing that preventive medicine is a great deal preferable to corrective or palliative treatments after getting sick.
What better than to start now for yourself? You might make a few notes about how you are now and what you want to achieve, and maybe take a good closeup photograph of yourself before you start, and another one in midsummer 2008. If you’d like to send them, I’d love to see how you are rejuvenating! If you have a concern, or a question, you are most welcome to email me.Elaine@livingfoods.co.uk